Meteor – John Wyndham

Author Background

John Wyndham was only one of the many pen names the writer John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris used in his life time. Others were John Beynon, John Beynon Harris, Johnson Harris, Lucas Parkes and Wyndham Parkes. When he was eight years old, his parents divorced. Following this, he and his brother Vivian Beynon Harris (who was also a writer) spent their childhood in several English schools. When he left school, John Wyndham did not have a clear idea of what to do. He tried his hand at farming, law, commercial art and advertising. He did not make any great mark at any of these. In 1929, he happened to read an American magazine, Amazing Stories. He was fascinated by the scientific fiction it carried. As he read more and more of them, he decided that he wanted to write science fiction too. He published in several leading science fiction magazines in the US. When Europe got embroiled in WW II, he joined the British Army. At the end of the war, Wyndham returned to writing. He was mainly inspired by HG Wells.

Relevance of the Title

The meteor which is discovered in a nondescript village is the vehicle the aliens use to arrive on earth. They have travelled in the meteor from their planet frota.

Main Themes

Lac k of Understanding

Humans appear to be singularly lacking in understanding. They don’t try to get to know the aliens; war and aggression are all they know. Instead of showing compassion to the tiny aliens, they kill them off using insecticide against which the aliens have no protection.

Size

Humans believe that bigger is always better. The aliens were advanced beyond the understanding of the humans but as they were small, they could easily be killed.

Characters

Humans

The book deals with humans and aliens. Individual characters do not matter. There are a few human characters but they are not delineated as persons. They behave as a group. No one thinks in a different way. The humans believe in aggression and war. They do not want to know why the aliens have come to earth.

Aliens

The aliens in many ways are like the humans. They have allowed their planet to degrade to an extent where it does not support the aliens’ lives. They are thus forced to look for a more congenial habitat. Aliens are pacifists. They have not come looking for war.

Summary

The insect sized aliens find that their planet is so degraded, it does not support their lives. They decide that the entire population has to be evacuated. For this they use a meteor and travel to planet earth. But when they reach earth, things go horribly wrong. They land on a farm where they are noticed by a cat and a dog. There is a skirmish in which the animals are killed. This alerts the family and the local police. Thinking that the aliens are insects, the humans kill them using insecticides. The aliens speak in first person where are the humans communicate in third person narrative.

 

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